Search

Saracens are coming - and they look pitch perfect at their new home

12:00 31 January 2013

Allianz Park, the new home to Saracens

Allianz Park, the new home to Saracens

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Saracens will unveil their new £24million Allianz Park stadium at Barnet Copthall to the public for the first time when they play Exeter Chiefs in a league match on February 16.

Saracens' James Short (left) gets away from Cardiff Blues' Luke Hamilton during the LV=Cup match at Allianz Park in Hendon.Saracens' James Short (left) gets away from Cardiff Blues' Luke Hamilton during the LV=Cup match at Allianz Park in Hendon.

The 2010-11 Aviva Premiership champions are making history as the first professional rugby union club in the world to play on a wholly artificial pitch.

They looked right at home on Sunday as they beat Cardiff Blues in an LV Cup pool match, which doubled as the second of two test events for the new ground and was restricted to season ticket holders.

The grand opening against Exeter is the first of five league games scheduled for the 10,000-seat stadium at the back end of this season, and it brings to an end an itinerant period for Saracens, who were founded in 1876 and played their first match at Primrose Hill.

Based for the past 16 years at Watford FC’s Vicarage Road, the men in black were forced to seek a new home when their landlords activated a break clause in their ground share agreement in 2010.

Saracens have been patient in the construction of the multi-purpose sports venue and have expressed their satisfaction as the finishing touches are completed on their new home, which offers permanent seating for 3,000 – and that can be increased to 10,000 by dismountable stands around the £500,000 artificial pitch.

“From a rugby perspective it [the construction] has gone well,” Saracens’ finance director Jon Hall told Ham&High Sport.

“Everything structural will be in place for February 16 and the only thing that won’t be ready is one of the car parks, which will have capacity for 700 cars.”

Sarries are to share the impressive complex with Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers Athletics Club as well as local schools, who will have regular access to the vastly-improved athletics venue.

The largest building is the East Stand which, along with the smaller West Stand, includes a section of dismountable seating.

The East Stand boasts facilities including a dining room that seats 500 people, a bar that runs the length of the stand and caters for 1,000, and a premier lounge bar called the Tulip Club. There are 16 boxes which can each seat 30 people and will double as meeting rooms.

Both stands offer excellent views of the pitch and the surrounding running track, while the East Stand houses a large indoor running track and a training area.

“There are four lanes around the track that Shaftesbury Barnet can use all the time, and eight during the summer,” said Hall. “There will be 4,000 seats there to watch athletics.

“The players will still train at St Albans but will come in to train here twice a week, and the pitch will be available for 30 hours a week for schools to use.”

The pitch has aroused significant interest from rugby officials, who were offered the chance to view the new facility last week.

“We have invited all sorts of people – other clubs, Premiership Rugby and the RFU [Rugby Football Union] – to come here to discuss the artificial pitch,” said Saracens’ high performance director Scott Murphy.

“The idea is to discuss its impact on rugby, safety, player concerns and to get as much information as we can out to all parties who will be involved with playing on this pitch.

“I think people are very surprised when they come in and see the quality of the installation and the quality of the product, and I think it is significantly better than most people had been exposed to previously with artificial turf.”

Hendon RFC’s clubhouse and pitches are within the Copthall playing fields complex, and their president David Gershlick believes his club will benefit from the new facilities.

“We have already discussed the possibility of Hendon playing matches at the ground and we are also hoping to use the ground for the next Middlesex County meeting as there are offices above the bar area under the East Stand,” Gershlick said.

“The first of the test games was a school match and the second was Saracens’ LV Cup game against Cardiff.

“The arrival of Saracens will be hugely influential in the community, it is a family inspired club. I am looking forward to going along and hosting other rugby clubs and going along with them to the game.

“I think Saracens have been getting average gates of five to six thousand. There is no reason for them not to sell out the full capacity here.”

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Yesterday, 14:59
Jaron Semper was part of a tail-end resistance that added 51 runs to North Middlesex's total but that effort proved to be in vain. Pic: Max Flego

Overseas recruit Mitch Murray hit his first half-century for North Middlesex and was the top scorer in Saturday’s clash with Richmond - but the Crouch End club slumped to their third successive defeat in the Premier Division of the Middlesex County League.

Yesterday, 14:29
Liam Hughes was Hampstead's best performer with the bat and ball but his efforts were not enough to save his side from defeat. Pic: Paolo Minoli

Hampstead suffered another setback in their title defence, losing for the third time in their opening four Premier Division matches after falling 99 runs short in their chase against Teddington.

Friday, May 27, 2016
Middlesex's Dawid Malan

Dawid Malan celebrated his first game as Middlesex’s T20 skipper with a classy knock of 93 as his side hammered Hampshire by 69 runs.

Friday, May 27, 2016
New Zealand's Brendon McCullum hits out against England in 2015

James Franklin has warned that Middlesex cannot expect his former New Zealand team-mate Brendon McCullum to single-handedly transform their fortunes in one-day cricket.

Thursday, May 26, 2016
Saracens' Chris Wyles scores his second try in Saturday's Premiership semi-final against Leicester

Saracens are aiming to complete an historic European and domestic double as they gear up for Saturday’s Premiership final at Twickenham.

Thursday, May 26, 2016
Middlesex batsman Nick Gubbins

While it may be a cliché, to get a first-class hundred for the first time at Lord’s – the home of cricket – was an absolute dream come true.

Thursday, May 26, 2016
Henry Collier bats for Hampstead. Pic: Max Flego

Hampstead captain Steve Clark feels his side have shown what they are capable of after the reigning champions kickstarted their title defence with a comprehensive home win.

Thursday, May 26, 2016
Left to right: Camden Swiss Cottage's Ally Dill, Amir Castronovo, Lauren Brantley, Alexis Lambropoulos, Marliese Rittenhouse, Brandon Biss, Ella McEver, Lyelle Kahaner, Alexander Chen and Clementine Butler Brown

A contingent of Camden Swiss Cottage’s youngsters faced their biggest challenge of the season so far at the London Regional Age Group Championships, held over two weekends at Crystal Palace.

PROMOTED CONTENT

There are no rules when it comes to buying studio pottery beyond choosing what you love

With The Great Pottery Throwdown captivating viewers across the nation, pottery courses at capacity, and hipsters snapping up vintage studio pieces to display their succulents in and post on Instagram, studio pottery and ceramics are definitely having a moment.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe